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Rights bodies see red over custodial deaths in Meghalaya

Friday, 30 May 2014 - 7:27am IST | Agency: dna

Human rights bodies have demanded an immediate judicial inquiry into two custodial deaths in Meghalaya within 15 days. The deaths were reported from state's Garo Hills. Lack of medical attention had allegedly caused the death of one Witson M Sangma inside a police station on Tuesday. Sangma, 35 and a suspected member of militant outfit Garo National Liberation Army, was arrested for allegedly planting two IEDs on a road.

Quoting doctors, the police said he died of hypertension. "During his medical examination, there were no signs of any major illness. Subsequently, he was taken back to his cell as he had to lead the police to the spot where the IEDs had been planted," South Garo Hills superintendent of police Lalador Syiem said.

Sangma's death came within days after one Balsan Marak, aged 18 and also a suspected militant, had died in the Tura district jail on May 12.

Meanwhile, the influential Garo Students' Union and the Federation of Khasi Jaintia and Garo Peoples have sought a CBI probe into the deaths. At the same time, they have called for a bandh in Garo Hills on June 2 in protest against the incidents.

The Shillong-based Civil Society Women's Organisation (CSWO), an anti-corruption and women's rights organisation, has also expressed concern over "torture by police leading to deaths and other similar human rights violations" in the state.

Seeking legal action against the guilty, the CSWO said. "Medical reports are often manipulated so that the police can get away with murder. In the case of Balsan Marak, we learnt that he was arrested and taken for medical test on May 12. But the police claimed that he was arrested on May 13," said Agnes Kharshiing of the CSWO. She alleged that there was a "strong collusion" between doctors and the police to cover up incidents of torture.

Recently, the National Human Rights Commission gave Assam's director general of police two weeks' time to submit a report on the alleged custodial torture of a youth inside a police lockup in Jorhat.

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